I have always been enamoured with the process of undertaking new experiences. The art of travel is a process of undertaking new experiences, whether it’s discovering a new city, undertaking a unique food adventure or visiting family in a foreign city. The thrill of a guaranteed new experience whilst traveling is the key reason why I enjoy the art of travel.
The difference with this blog and most travel blogs is that this is not about my experiences per se, or a blog about the best travel hacks when you’re traveling alone. Rather it is a blog focussed on reducing the stigmas attached to traveling whilst with children. Any stigma should be dispelled in favour of ensuring that your child is undertaking a new experience through the art of travel. During their formidable years children are a sponge to the world around them, it is important to surround them in experiences that help shape their confidence for the future. Exposing your child to travel is great way to educate them on the different bubbles outside of their own. With the untapped imagination filtering through every child, traveling will ensure that they will be able to create a repository of valuable ideas, knowledge and experiences. Think about the confidence created if a child experiences a new language for the first time, and is able to understand and converse freely without the process of a regimented classroom. What about the knowledge created if a child is able to experience a new city and is able to compare and contrast the differences to their home city in order to better understand how the world works around them. Knowledge coupled with increased confidence will foster your child’s ability to garner new ideas, fulfil their imagination and most importantly help define who they are. If there is any education that I would wish upon any child it is the experiences garnered whilst traveling (however I must point out that traditional schooling is always important, travel should be used a supplement to advance their education).
The key experience of focus will be that of my daughter Ariana, who as of writing is 2 years old. I want to share her experiences whilst we travel/ed with her. Share how she changed and was able to absorb experiences to further enlighten her knowledge. One of her first experiences occurred during our 2015-16 trip to Indonesia. Ariana took in the hustle and bustle of the traffic in every Indonesian city. The amount of road travel we took educated her on the different forms of transport frequenting the roads. As a result she was able to say out loudly as a 1-year-old “bus”, ‘motorcycle’, she even learnt Indonesian pronunciations, which included ‘sepeda’ (bike) and “mobil” (car). It is doubtful that she would have enjoyed a classroom session on Indonesian and English transport greater than her travels through Indonesia. This initial experience enlightened my view that travel helped speed up her development, as she was able to experience a new challenge in her learning development, as opposed to being stuck in the same city during her early years.
Hopefully by sharing my daughter’s experiences, you will be able to reduce your own stigmas, concerns and prejudices when you decide to travel with a child. There is no doubt that traveling with a child will be a stressful process (e.g. dealing with a crying and fussy child on a long haul economy flight). However this stigma should not take precedence over the guaranteed new experiences your child will cherish for the rest of their lives. Think about it,if your only concern with travel is purely logistics (e.g. organising food, clothes, what happens when they start crying?), then what are you doing when you are not traveling? Aren’t these same logistics apparent when you’re not traveling? These logistics do not become worse or easier when you travel. Instead of worrying about these logistics ensure you add value to your child’s burgeoning experiences.
However I’m cognisant, that some new travel experiences may inhibit potentially unsafe situations such as poor food label standards, non-compatible beach and pool safety standards and/or increased risk of disease. Being fully aware of these risks is important and should form part of any planning when you travel with your child, however these ‘risks’ will embolden your child’s confidence in determining their own safety. If a child is aware and confident in navigating the different risks faced in a foreign land, then their ability to navigate risks in their home city would dramatically improve. I have no doubt a child being able to understand their own risk would increase their confidence in having to manage similar situations into the future and potentially on their own.
The other objective of this blog is to also create a network of travel aimed at including children. The travel industry is a billion dollar industry, which does not seem to have perfected the art of travel with children. The overwhelming paradigm in travel concerns either cashed up professionals looking for a luxurious holiday or freshly minted students looking for a journey of discovery. There does not seem to be an effective market for children and their parents in the travel industry. Is this caused by the aforementioned stigmas, or is there a segment of the market crying out for the travel industry to focus on children?
By following this blog, I hope that you will find the inspiration to travel with your child and not view this as a chore, but rather as an important learning curve in your child’s development. The bond between you and your child will dramatically improve after every travel journey. Isn’t that what most parents want?
Chris & Ariana.